Progressive Snapshot Review

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Progressive Insurance is a well-known name in auto insurance—for good reason. It is one of the largest auto insurers in the United States, with over 10 million auto policies written and 18 million combined policies written for car, boat, home, motorcycle, and others. Progressive Insurance has been given an “A+” (Superior) financial strength rating from the insurance rating organization, A.M. Best.

The company was founded in 1937 and has paved the way as an innovator in the insurance industry. One of Progressive's key additions is its usage-based auto insurance program called Snapshot, a program that bases premiums on your driving habits. According to Progressive, the company states Snapshot has saved auto policyholders more than $700 million in discounts. The average driver can expect to receive a $145 discount.

Snapshot Program Features

If you decide to sign up for the Progressive Snapshot program, you'll receive a device in the mail (the Snapshot device only works in vehicles built after 1995). The device is approximately the size of a golf ball, and the installation process is relatively simple.

It plugs into your car’s computer port underneath your steering wheel. Once installed, the device tracks where, when, and how far you drive. It will track your driving habits, looking for hard braking occurrences—any decrease in speed over seven miles per hour per second—or hard-cornering events.

The definition of hard breaking varies. Providers define it differently—some use seven mph per second, others might use nine mph per second.

The device does not record whether or not you exceed the speed limit. After a policy period—typically six months—you receive a pre-paid box in the mail to return the device to Progressive.

Snapshot is available in all states except California and North Carolina.

Mobile Application

Progressive Snapshot has evolved its program since it first launched in 2008. Many drivers now use the program through the Progressive mobile application rather than through the original plug-in telematics device. The app simply tracks your driving habits through your phone as you drive.

To use the app, download it, register, and let it run. The mobile app includes a dashboard that lists your driving status, recent trips and tips for improving your driving.

Privacy of Personal Information

The telematics device installed in your vehicle tracks your driving habits such as the time and location of your drives. Progressive states that while there is a GPS function within the program, it is used to provide trip and location data only.

The program is voluntary, and the information it receives is used for insurance policy servicing only. The company does not share your information unless it is required to service your insurance policy, prevent fraud, perform research or to comply with the law.

Snapshot information is only used to resolve a claim if you or the registered vehicle owner permits it, and is kept indefinitely, although it is deleted from the device as soon as it is retrieved.

If you use the app on your phone, the data may stay there for several days before being deleted. Before it is deleted, you'll be able to view your driving information, which includes total miles, average speeds and details of the drives you take during your evaluation period.

These data are transmitted to the company and are evaluated over a 30-day period to determine if you qualify for a discount and how much it will be.

Thoughts on Progressive's Snapshot

The Snapshot program benefits can range from no savings to the receipt of up to a 30% discount on auto insurance. Using the elements of driving that are tracked by the device and app as a reference, it would seem as if those that drive less, hard-brake less, and don't drive as much between the hours of midnight and 4 a.m. would receive a greater discount in their insurance premiums.

If you drive in an area where there are many instances of hard-breaking during a driving period—such as freeway commuting or city driving, you may not see big savings when using Snapshot.

The hard-braking rule of seven miles per hour per second might be unrealistic, especially in high-traffic areas where brakes are frequently applied quickly. Using this as a measurement may unfairly judge drivers according to their driving environment rather than how safely they drive.

The Bottom Line

There are some people who will never feel comfortable with a tracking device installed in their vehicle. If you are one of these people, then the Snapshot program may not be for you. However, if you are currently paying a high auto insurance premium because you are considered a high-risk driver, you may be able to realize some savings through the Progressive Snapshot program.